In tutoring beginning Latin through Classical Conversations, Challenge A, I’m always looking for games to help the students review. And when I got to the second semester, I realized I need a completely different kind of game. Some of my students had fallen behind in the vocab or the parents had decided the goal in Latin had changed for their family. In class, I had students at wildly different places. I already employ of games that are not competitive–in that they rely on a lot of chance to win–to help level the playing field between students who’ve memorized everything and those who struggle. (Because the purpose of my class is not to make a student feel shamed and unable to play if their parents have decided they’re not learning all the vocab or they are doing it at a different pace. The point of this class is for us to all be able to encourage each other, to keep learning, not just reward the top performers.)
But what do you do when you realize you have students who really cannot even have an answer, and even when having students play in partnerships, it’s still obvious that some students have nothing to offer their partnership when it comes to memory work?
I was playing the game Clue with my kids one winter night, and it popped into my head that this game was perfect for my class! I made a quick list of subject nouns, another of objects, another of locations, and one of action verbs, and thought how we could play Latin Clue without the board and the dice. All we needed was the list of words and students making guesses until they, by process of elimination, guess “who done it!”
As we’ve played it in class three weeks now, I love it even more! The beauty is that it is useful and encouraging to every student. They LOVE it, they PICK it EVERY week now! Even a student who doesn’t know a lick of new vocab can still play the Clue game because it requires only choosing words already given. Now when students eliminate a vocab word from the game, I ask the whole class what it means–so we get to review the words’ meanings in each turn, but that can be answered by anyone and doesn’t affect ability to participate. Lastly, I love that students are so alert during this game and paying attention to everyone else’s turn and what words they pick–because they HAVE to!
As you will see, it’s different from Clue in that every crime is not a murder. We can use most of our verbs, and it’s sometimes very funny to students how something can be a crime–for instance, a soldier can be accused of using influence and praising in the river. What story could explain that as a crime? But we go with it! Our purpose is to review as much vocab as possible.
LATIN CLUE GAME
Purpose: to review Latin vocab and grammar; multiple levels of play available and can be run simultaneously in the same class
Object of game: to correctly guess the crime, the perpetrator, the object used, and the location.
How to make the game: You could use the words in the game sheet I’ve pasted below or choose your own words. Make-up or print game sheet for students and make a flash-card sized card for each word on the list.
To start the game: 1) Pass out to each student (or pair of students if you have a group larger than say 10) a copy of the game sheet.
2) Take the vocab cards and choose one from each category to hold ba.ck (That’s the info student are going to try to guess.)
3) Take all remaining cards, shuffle, and distribute to students evenly.
4) Explain the goal by referring to the sentence (either printed on the students’ sheets or written on the board):
___________ uses ___________ and __________ in __________.
(subject noun) (object-DO) (verb) (location)
Student turns: 1) students will look at their cards and cross off, on their game sheet, any word they find on their cards.
2) At each turn, tell the class one word from each category (one person, one object, one verb, one location, etc.) NOTcrossed off on their list.
3) Any classmates who have one of those words just guessed should raise their hands. To make the game go slowly, you call on only one. When a student says he/she has one vocab word on their cards, everyone in the class should cross it out on their sheet; this word cannot be the real crime because the answers are not in the deck that was distributed to the students! To make the game go faster, at each turn, you could call on students to eliminate 2 or even three words per turn.
4) To make this a good review, ask if anyone knows the English translation each time you eliminate a word.
The end: when someone guesses a word for each category and no one in the class can refute them. You can chekc the cards you held bakc to verify.
To end before that (when you run out of class time for this), ask each student/pair to make a final guess about the person accused. Hear all guesses, then reveal the answer from what you held back. Award a point to each student who guessed correctly. Do the same process for each of the other categories. The winner is the person/pair with the most points. (See, the winner of this game becomes so through good guessing or exercise of logic skills–NOT based on how mcuh they’ve memorized. And sometimes, we just need that in our classes.)
Ideas for an even easier version: You can make cards and players’ sheets with only 2 categories—say, in first semester, you could have only verbs and objects. (You could pick one verb to be standard, not something that needs to be guessed.) You could add more categories over time as students learn more.
Ideas for harder versions:
1) For the entire class: add more categories. I plan to add adjectives that could describe a person. Another challenge to add: require that for the end round of guessing, students may guess only words they can translate. Unless your class is up to it though, this may not be the best tack. You could also ask each student to translate their final guesses, but if they’re not sure, ask anyone in the class.
2) For only some of your students, who are ready for the challenge: You place all words in alphabetical order on the game sheets instead of having them split into lists of people, objects, verbs, locations, etc. A student ready for it can test his/her understanding of grammar by having to find all the nominative nouns (people) versus accusative nouns (objects), verbs and ablative nouns (locations.) I plan to do this for my practicum class on Latin this summer. I will have 9 year olds as well as students who’ve completed Challenge A, so I will give the younger students sheets with all categories divided out, so they need only choose one per group to play—but students who need the challenge will get the sheet with the parts of speech all mingled together.
OTHER QUESTIONS TO ASK STUDENTS AS THEY PLAY:
What do you notice that all the subject nouns (people) have in common? (They’re all nominative, they’re all singular.)
What do all objects have in common? (They’re all in the accusative form , they’re all also nouns.)
What do you notice about all the verbs? (They’re all in third person singular.)
What is the same about all locations? (They’re all in the ablative case.)
The above questions get at reviewing the grammar and their ability to observe the endings
If you make students the more advanced game sheets , they will have to use such knowledge of the endings and the grammar to even choose words to fit each category for their guesses.
TIPS FOR PRACTICAL USE IN THE CLASSROOM:
- The first time you play will be slow and tedious. But it gets much faster as students get the hang of it. It’s so worth one slow first-time play for a great game the rest of the year. I typically play a review game for 15-20 minutes. In Challenge A, the vocab is the highest priority.
- As for how many words/cards you need: consider the size of your class. For the word lists posted below, I used that for my class of 5, and after I saved four cards for the answer, each student then had 9 cards in their personal deck.
Practicum Latin Camp IDEAS: I love letting the kids get dramatic, so when we play at practicum, I will probably let volunteers dress up as the subject nouns on our list. I’ll bring in simple pieces of costumes to designate a soldier, a centurion, a senator, Caesar, a father, etc. The challenge I’m thinking through is how to let girls participate, since mother is the only I’m using that is obviously a female, at least in the ancient Roman sense. (I may have to bend out of being strictly historically accurate…)
Sample of my game sheets below–except I cannot show you accurately how I made mine in Word with two columns. (This blog format will not let me do that…)
|Sem 2,wk 6|
|PEOPLE (subject noun)|
|LOCATIONS (object of preposition)|
I hope this works in your classroom.
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